3.23.2014

Join us for Yoga by Candlelight for Earth Hour in Riverside


energyXchange is honored to be selected as one of the Toronto's locations to celebrate earth hour this year


Earth Salutations:
Ground, connect and and step forward as we salute Mother Earth.

A moving mindful practice that deepens our connection, roots our mind and nourishes our spirit as we all stand together to find balance within and around us.

We will be making an alter that represents the earth at the front of the studio. Please bring anything you would like to offer. (Acorns, dirt, and branches welcome!)

2.26.2014

Why Clutter Can Make You Fat


A very popular quote, is "how you do one thing, is how you do everything". So it is only fitting that we have a hard time supporting political candidates that over indulge in any area of their life. Be it promiscuity, food, or yes, crack. And as a society, this is probably why we have a hard time believing everything an attorney may say, even out of the courtroom.

Some find it difficult to believe that people can successfully lead in their professional life, when they don't have a handle on their own personal life. They could be wrong, but are they? And what does this all have to do with carrying extra weight?

Many articles and books have been written on clutter and weight gain, the most popular being "Does this clutter make my butt look fat?". The author, Peter Walsh's main objective is to help you clear the 'fat' in your home, and clean up the routines you have around meal time: from planning meals and shopping, to dinnertime rituals.

Could this be the key? Is it possible to make good food choices, if we can't even see the dining room table from beneath the clutter? Can we feel good about our wardrobe when most of the pieces are too small, too big, don't fit properly, or out of style, but we choose to hang on to them anyway?

Is the state of our home really a reflection of the state of our bodies? And what came first...the clutter or the fat?

The good news is that therapists say that losing weight and getting a handle on your health will significantly affect the amount of clutter in your home.

The better news is that therapists say that losing the clutter and getting a handle on your personal space will significantly affect the amount of fat in your body.

So here is where we come in. EnergyXchange's Project Detox is our 3 month campaign that will not only focus on your body, but also on detoxing your brain, detoxing your closet, and detoxing your entire life.

So what do we have in store for you in March?

Body:
Join our in house chiropractor, Dr Jenn in a B.E.S.T emotion clearing event. Learn how your body stores negative thoughts and emotions and how you can clear it and get a clean slate.
Sat March 22, 12:15-1pm

Brain:
Join Nancy Leach and learn how to clear negative thoughts that contaminate our perception of what's actually happening. This 12-week course will very gently lead us through some basic neuroscience, and learn to counteract negativity through guided exercises and silent Mindfulness meditation. This is a class not to be missed!
Beginning Sunday March 2nd 5:15-6:15 pm

Closet:
Please help support a great cause (and tell your friends). Bring in gently used business attire and support 'Dress For Success', a non-for-profit charity that helps woman get back into the work force. Ever thought that a piece of clothing is too nice to just give away, but you never wear it? This is the time to give it new life,...and let it go.
The added bonus is a complimentary class pass for every donation to be used or given to a loved one*.
Donations accepted March 1st-March 31st


Together, we can work toward a simpler, happier life, with less stuff getting in our way.
Please let us know how your project detox is going and any suggestions you may have. See you in the studio, and have fun!

Sincerely,


Marea Taylor, owner
and the entire
energyXchange team

1.07.2014

Research uncovers whole foods method of defending against protein loss from a hard workout


There is a widespread perception that since it is muscle that is being challenged during a workout, and muscle is made of protein, protein is what muscle needs to repair and protect itself. A recent research study investigated the efficacy of green leaf vegetables as a buffer against the damage, replacing the traditionally relied on protein shakes with salads.

Not everything about exercise is good for you

Earlier studies have widely documented the deleterious effects that aerobic exercise has on the body. Because of the increase in blood circulation, individuals will also experience (and need) increased oxygen flow to the tissues as well. Oxidization is an unavoidable consequence of this process, and has been demonstrated to cause mutations in mitochondrial DNA and erasures of important information in adult muscle cells. Oxidization is the key process in the barrier of complete cell renewal, and leads to signs of aging, and weakened defenses against disease.

An innocent looking arsenal

Watercress is the antithesis of what would intuitively be reached for after a workout. In contradiction to the "You are what you eat" philosophy, watercress floats, is hollow, and like all plant life, is largely composed of water- quite the opposite of the effect most exercisers are aiming for. Generally, protein is supplemented before or after a workout to replace and reinforce the depleted muscle. Researchers are proposing that the problem be addressed in a more preventative manner. Instead of mediating the destruction by preparing reinforcements, they advise anticipating and preventing the loss altogether.

The conductor's favorite meal is a stocked pantry

In addition to the standard nutrients of dark green leaves, vitamins A, C, and folic acid, watercress is well-stocked with iron and calcium. It also contains surprisingly high levels of iodine, which serve to improve hormone regulation via its impact on the thyroid. Perhaps a clue to watercress' ability to help muscle recovery, the thyroid controls the metabolism and the amount of protein being released into the blood, and orchestrates the functioning of several other organs by these mechanisms. It controls how and when nutrients are rerouted to distressed muscle tissue, effectively making the body more immediately aware of the need.

The third line of defense

The plant also stocks a chemical called phenethyl isothiocyanate, which has been shown to cause apoptosis in cancer cells. Apoptosis, or 'programmed cells cell death', is a kind of biological self destruct feature that organisms use to protect themselves against cells in their army that go rogue. Demonstrating this ability, consuming watercress shows a strong correlation with growth inhibition in breast and cervical cancers.

Original Post by Raw Michelle for naturalnews.com

12.30.2013

Ditching Traditional New Year's Resolution

Though many of us have been focused on holiday parties, family festivities, and winter activities, there is another holiday tradition looming just around the bend: New Year's Resolutions. And rather than let this tradition sneak up on us, I suggest we take some time to reflect and prepare for the ball to drop in 2013.
I would also like to posit an idea for all of us. I think it’s time to ditch traditional New Year Resolutions entirely in favor of something a bit more attainable: let’s call them New Years Intentions.
You see, I’ve never liked the word resolutions. It invokes the tried (and often failed) tradition of making quantitative goals that more often than not wane after a month or two. They don’t do us much good.
I know firsthand the sometimes paralyzing effect that a very specific "goal" can have on people. In college, I trained for three marathons never to run an actual race. Why? Because I had it in my mind that I wanted to run them in exactly 4:20 minutes. And I could not imagine finishing the race at any time slower than that goal.
However, I knew deep down that getting exactly that time was unlikely at best, since there are so many factors that can affect you on a 26.2 mile run, like blisters, wind, and fatigue. I honestly believed that I was more likely to quit the race mid-run than slow down and finish at a slower time.
I am happy to report that since then I have changed my thinking about goals like time in a race to realize that the bigger win is to finish the race in the first place! After that, race time is just icing on the cake. I have now successfully completed two marathons, each over my original 4:20 minute goal. But the point is that I ran them. Whereas before, when I cared so much about a specific time, I was too afraid to fail at that pace to even attempt the distance in the first place. Though many people may not be as extreme as I was back then, my story demonstrates how extremely specific goals may limit us from taking action in the right direction and making any progress at all.
Sometimes "all or nothing" thinking paired with goal setting is just as bad as low motivation. Neither end of the goal-setting spectrum allows us to move forward and get closer to the lives we want.
So now I propose making intentions instead. Because unlike an unattained resolution, an intention is an ongoing effort. When you stray from an intention one day—i.e. vegging out with the girls or postponing the job search because things are hectic at your current job—you can come back to it the next day and pick up where you left off with new commitment to your aim. It’s a more malleable approach, because, let’s face it, life throws curveballs.
As you work toward whatever your intentions for the new year may be, it’s important to remind yourself that the road might not be easy and a specific quantitative goal may not be attained within a limited timeframe. But everyone who ever accomplished anything did so with a lot of hard work but indubitably faced certain setbacks.
You will stumble.
When you set a resolution, you often put quantifiers on the goal. Stop watching TV, go to yoga twice a week, lose 10 pounds, quit your job by March, etc., all have specific guidelines that need to be met in order for the resolution to be fulfilled. This often is not realistic for those of us who are constantly evolving and changing.
When an intention is made, however, we can change those strict resolutions into more flexible, attainable versions of the same goals. For example, we can incorporate more exercise and vegetables into our lives rather than trying to lose a specified amount of weight by a specific deadline.
And when we find ourselves overindulging in sweets on Valentine’s Day, we won’t beat ourselves up or throw in the healthy intention towel completely. We can simply acknowledge that we didn’t fulfill our intention to the fullest and cut back the next week. By continually working on our intentions through the good days and bad, we may just find that we drop those pounds without the strict timeline or all-or-nothing approach.
There will be deviations.
Further, we may find that at some point later in the year we may want to amend our intention. Or circumstantial changes in life may mean that what was a goal on January 1 is no longer realistic (this could be for financial, health, familial, or any other reasons). Rather than lose 10 pounds we may find that losing 8 pounds leaves us feeling pretty darn sexy. And those extra two pounds we keep turn out to be muscle, which is healthy. This adjustment to our aim is a lot easier to make when we come from an intentional perspective.
In this case we won’t have to qualify why we didn’t meet our resolutions. Instead, we simply fulfill the intention of being healthier in a new way.
Incremental progress is still progress.
Last but not least, the great thing about intentions is that they allow you to see all progress as a good thing. If it takes you longer than you’d like to meet a resolution, it’s easy to get discouraged. But when you approach your life changes from an intentional point of view, you can see how far you’ve come from where you started and celebrate that as success. As Joyce Meyer says, “You may not be where you want to be, but thank God you aren’t where you used to be. You are doing okay, and you are on your way!”
This positive approach to intentions is often more effective (avoiding that burnout factor that resolutions have) and kinder. It allows you to celebrate the journey, not just the destination.
Original post for Living Well by Jess Lively

12.15.2013

What Does Kinesio Taping Do?


Kinesio Taping gives support and stability to your joints and muscles without affecting circulation and range of motion. It is also used for Preventive Maintenance, Edema, and to treat pain.

Kinesio Taping is a technique based on the body’s own natural healing process. This Kinesio Taping exhibits its efficacy through the activation of neurological and circulatory systems. This method basically stems from the science of Kinesiology, hence the name “Kinesio”. Muscles are not only attributed to the movements of the body but also control the circulation of venous and lymph flows, body temperature, etc. Therefore, the failure of the muscles to function properly induces various kinds of symptoms.

Consequently, so much attention was given to the importance of muscle function that the idea of treating the muscles in order to activate the body’s own healing process came about. Using an elastic tape, it was discovered that muscles and other tissues could be helped by outside assistance. Employment of Kinesio Taping creates a totally new approach to treating nerves, muscles, and organs. The first application of Kinesio Taping was for a patient with articular disorders.

For the first 10 years, orthopedists, chiropractors, acupuncturists and other medical practitioners were the main users of Kinesio Taping. Soon thereafter, Kinesio Taping was used by the Japanese Olympic volleyball players and word quickly spread to other athletes. Today, Kinesio Taping is used by medical practitioners and athletes around the world.

The Kinesio Taping Method is applied over muscles to reduce pain and inflammation, relax overused tired muscles, and to support muscles in movement on a 24hr/day basis. It is non-restrictive type of taping which allows for full range of motion.

In contrast, traditional sports’ taping is wrapped around a joint strictly for stabilization and support during a sporting event obstructing the flow of bodily fluids as an UNDESIRABLE side-effect.

Kinesio Tape is used for anything from headaches to foot problems and everything in between. Examples include: muscular facilitation or inhibition in pediatric patients, carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back strain/pain (subluxations, herniated disc), knee conditions, shoulder conditions, hamstring, groin injury, rotator cuff injury, whiplash, tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, patella tracking, pre and post surgical edema, ankle sprains, athletic preventative injury method, and as a support method.

Original Post for kinesiotape.ca

12.08.2013

What Should You Eat Before and After Your Workout?


Gather a dozen nutrition and fitness experts. Ask them what they recommend for pre- and post-workout snacks. If I know anything about health experts, you'll get about a dozen answers.

I always base my recommendations on science. Even then, certain topics invite debate. Among them: what to eat before and after a workout.

Before we discuss fuel, we need to discuss exercise. My philosophy is that working out should be intense. You should get hot and sweaty, and it might hurt a little.

Listen, I love when clients tell me they park their cars further from the mall doors or take the stairs. Movement counts, period. That said, I don't consider walking to be serious exercise. To me, walking is essential.

Real exercise involves intensity, whether that means short, all-out bursts of movement or challenging weight resistance to stimulate growth hormone, build muscle, better handle sugar and stress, burn fat, and boost your metabolism.

To get these benefits from exercise, you'll probably need to break a sweat and get out of your comfort zone.

What to Eat for Pre-Workout Food?

You need energy, of course, for vigorous exercise. You probably interpret energy as food, but you also have some energy stored in your muscles as glycogen. That's one reason you may or may not require pre-workout food. I recommend that you listen to your body.

Some people can work out well in the morning on an empty stomach. They go into the gym and maintain steady energy throughout their grueling workout. Others, like myself, do better with a protein and carb mini-meal - say, half a protein shake - rather than try to go full-throttle after 12 hours of fasting.

If working out on an empty stomach in the morning leaves you lagging for energy, have a protein shake or mini-meal. If you work out later in the day, I recommend working out two to three hours after a meal or one hour after a smaller snack.

What you don't want to do is eat a big meal or a high-fat snack before you workout. Give your body adequate time to digest food, so it can optimally fuel your muscles while you work out.

I should add that a cup of organic coffee makes great morning pre-workout fuel, especially if you're working out on an empty stomach. Just don't use caffeine as a crutch for poor sleep or underlying issues like adrenal fatigue.

What to Eat for Post-Workout Food?

I discussed intense exercise earlier for a reason: a vigorous workout burns a lot of sugar. But wait, you say. You want to burn fat, not sugar. Well, stay with me.

Intense exercise burns more sugar during exercise, and more fat and calories overall. Burst training and other rigorous exercise require more post-workout recovery.

After your workout your body looks to refuel those muscle stores (as glycogen), preferably as soon as possible. Muscle repair, also known as muscle protein re-synthesis, demands carbohydrates to refuel your muscle's energy stores and protein to help your muscles rebuild and recover.

When bodybuilders speak of a "magic window,” they’re talking about that first hour after their workouts where their bodies are most efficient at refueling their muscle stores.

When we work out vigorously, we all have that magic window.

You want to eat correctly, then, during that magic hour. This is especially critical for your next workout, since how you refuel after this workout will determine available energy for your next workout.

Essentially, then, your post-workout fuel - protein and carbs - will mimic what you had before your workout.

The one carbohydrate you absolutely should avoid is fructose, which will shut down post-exercise fat burning. (Come to think of it: just ditch fructose, period.) Don't finish your workout and then gulp an agave-sweetened smoothie or protein-enhanced fruit juice, which are full of fructose.

My favorite post-workout meal is a plant-based (but not soy) protein powder blended with low-sugar fruit (berries or cherries are perfect) and unsweetened coconut milk. If you have a post-workout meal, combine clean lean protein, slow-release high-fiber carbs, and healthy fats.

Original Post for Livestrong.com by JJ Virgin

12.01.2013

Muscle Imbalances Cause Swayback and Lower Back Pain


The amount of people experiencing bad posture and back or knee pain is steadily increasing. Modern lifestyle increases the risk of muscle imbalances, bad posture, back pain, knee pain etc., and we are spending billions each year on pharmaceuticals to alleviate the pain. A minimal amount of proper training is a far better long-term option. One of the most common postural problems is lower crossed syndrome, also called excessive anterior pelvic tilt or lordosis.

LCS, lower crossed syndrome, is very common especially among females, and visual cues include a forward tipped pelvis, increased lower back curve (sway back) and a "bulging" (not necessarily fat) abdomen. Muscle imbalances are also present, but can be harder to spot by the average layman.

Sitting down for hours each day, often in a flexed position, leads to shortening of the hip flexors and increased tension on the lower back. A minimal amount of physical activity, genetic predispositions and imbalanced training are also major causes of LCS. The problems usually develop over time, and suddenly a daily activity, like tying the shoes, cause pain.

Reciprocal inhibition means that when muscles on one side of the joint are contracting, the muscles on the other side of the joint are relaxing. In LCS, the most important muscles include over-active and tight hip flexors and lower back muscles, and weak gluteals, abdominals and sometimes hamstrings. The strong muscles become over-active in daily chores, making the condition even worse.

LCS doesn't necessarily cause pain in itself, but leads to poor movement patterns, several muscle imbalances and increased susceptibility to knee and back pain. A forward head posture and upper crossed syndrome, another common condition, can also result from LCS.

Treating lower crossed syndrome

Postural training is an important part of treating LCS, and especially paying attention to sitting posture is vital. The training program should include exercises to strengthen the gluteals and the abdominals. Strengthening the obliques and sometimes hamstrings can also be beneficial. Muscles that need to be stretched include the hip flexors and lower back muscles.

People with LCS usually have difficulty performing proper squats and lunges, and in the beginning the emphasis should be to activate the gluteal muscles with exercises such as glute bridge, hip thrust, reverse hyperextension and quadruped hip extension. Start with no added weight, use perfect technique and strive to get proper contraction. When you progress you can slowly add weights and begin to experiment with other exercises.

Good starting exercises for the abdominals include reverse crunch and a properly performed plank.

Static or dynamic stretching of the hip flexors and lower back muscles is a good start for beginners.

Original post by Eric Hunter for naturalnews.com

11.24.2013

Is Greek Yogurt Really More Nutritious Than Regular Yogurt?


Is all the hoopla about Greek yogurt justified? Just what is the difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt? And is Greek Yogurt more nutritious? Read on, for some answers.

Both types of yogurt come from milk that has had healthy bacteria added, causing it to ferment. During this process, yogurt thickens and takes on a slightly tangy taste. Yogurt is then strained with a cheesecloth, which allows the liquid whey part of milk to drain off. Regular yogurt is strained twice, while Greek yogurt is strained three times to remove more whey (resulting in a thicker consistency at the end of this process).

This additional third straining step is what makes Greek yogurt different from regular yogurt in several important ways. Greek yogurt contains less whey, lactose, calcium, sodium and sugar than regular yogurt. A single serving of Greek yogurt averages around 50 milligrams of sodium -- that's about half the sodium contained in most brands of regular yogurt. Greek yogurt also contains roughly half the carbs as regular yogurt -- 5 to 8 grams per serving compared with 13 to 17 grams in regular yogurt. Because more liquid gets eliminated in the additional straining, producers need more milk to produce one cup of Greek yogurt than they require to produce one cup of regular yogurt.

Consequently, Greek yogurt has more protein than regular yogurt, because it is more concentrated. Greek yogurt actually contains almost double the protein of regular yogurt. Eight ounces (one cup) of Greek yogurt has about 17 grams of protein, compared to the 11 grams that regular yogurt provides. This makes Greek yogurt a great option for anyone trying to sneak in a little more protein into their diet. Also, because of its high protein content, Greek yogurt will help you stay full longer, which is key if you are trying to lose weight or maintain it.

Whether you eat it alone, with fruit or enjoy it as a treat or dessert instead of ice cream, Greek yogurt is most definitely a healthful choice - and for me, one that always wins over regular yogurt.

Original post by Amanda Russell from livestrong.com

11.17.2013

Diet and Exercise for Seasonal Depression


Short, grey days and cold weather are generally enough to drive even the most optimistic of us into a bit of a funk. But if you’re an avid exerciser who can’t get in your regular workout because of bad weather, the stress and rush of the holiday season can really throw you off your game. These frustrating bouts of sadness and moodiness are known, informally, as “the winter blues.”

For some, these mood shifts can be much more serious, and account for a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Unlike the winter blues, SAD can occur during any season, and include much more severe symptoms. Since SAD can be related to hormone imbalances and may require prescription medication, it’s important to work with your doctor if you’re experiencing severe depression.

The good news: for both SAD and the milder winter blues, there is strong evidence that simple changes in diet and regular exercise can help you endure these seasonal mood swings until the sun shines again.

Work It Out

Especially during the colder months, exercising can be difficult if your energy levels are low to begin with and the weather makes it difficult to get outside. Focusing on the benefits you can expect to reap from exercise, though, will encourage you to get yourself up and moving.

The American Council on Exercise recommends remembering your past successes and setting clear goals to keep you moving. Joining a class or finding a workout buddy will help you stay focused.

Thinking in terms of “activity” rather than exercise may also help. Look for opportunities to inject some added activity into your day: take the stairs, skip the shortcuts and turn some of your household chores into workouts.

Simply taking brisk walks outdoors can go a long way toward improving your mood. The sunlight is directly responsible for production of serotonin and melatonin, two mood-regulating hormones. Any exercise will increase the release of several endorphins which can help improve your mood, help you sleep and regulate your appetite.

Specifically, cardiovascular exercise and mindful exercises like yoga and Pilates can be especially useful. Because these workout modes help you focus on your breathing and heart rate, they help to modify your stress response, and consequently fight depression.

Eat Right

Depression can increase your cravings for simple carbohydrates, which absorb quickly into your body but also cause a crash in blood sugar. And since fatty, starchy treats are easy to come by during the holiday season, it’s important to pay particular attention to how you’re eating in order to avoid SAD symptoms.

Stock up on complex carbs, which can give you the same serotonin boost as their simpler cousins, but keep your blood sugar steady and balanced. This would include foods that contain whole-wheats and oats, like whole grain breads, bran muffins, brown rice and oatmeal.

Since seasonal depression, in most cases, is related to reduced exposure to sunlight, researchers have examined the impact of vitamin D, which is produced by sunlight, on depression. The research is still inconclusive but promising enough to spur more studies. While fortified foods, like milk and cereal, have vitamin D added, very few foods contain it naturally.

Two foods that do provide vitamin D are salmon and tuna. These fatty fish are also rich in omega-3s, which have shown potential in several studies for improving mood and brain function. If you don’t enjoy fish and choose to supplement, though, try to select a supplement that is particularly high in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), since this variety of omega-3 is thought to be the most effective.

These small changes in your activity and diet could help you improve your mood and get you through your bout with seasonal depression.

Original Post Jonathon Thompson for Livestrong.com

11.10.2013

Winter Nutrition Tips


The winter season is one of the most important times to ensure your immune system is in good health. Here are five strategies you can use to maintain a healthy diet during the winter months:

Make the most of seasonal produce

The winter season provides a wonderful opportunity to embrace seasonal produce – try pomegranates, cranberries, citrus fruits, purple grapes and orange root vegetables. You’ll be sure to consume lots of antioxidants for the winter months.

Embrace home cooking

Why not use the longer evenings to try out new meal ideas and practice your cooking skills? Use the extra time you are indoors to try a new recipe, or add some new ingredients to an old favourite.

Reassess your Vitamin D

A deficiency of vitamin D, the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, is common in people living with HIV, particularly in the winter months since the body is unable to synthesis this nutrient from sun exposure. Since food sources alone are often inadequate, you may want to consider supplements of this vitamin. Choose vitamin D3, the active form of the nutrient and be sure to speak to your doctor.

Avoid holiday binging

While a bit of indulgence is expected, high intakes of refined sugar and alcohol can not only lead to weight gain, but also depress your immune system. Avoid an all-or nothing attitude – holiday indulging doesn’t have to mean holiday binging!

Eat for immunity

An easy way to take care of your immune system is to ensure you consume vitamin C rich foods every day. The best food sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits and their juices (like oranges and grapefruit), kiwis, mangos, strawberries, sweet peppers, and broccoli.

It’s natural to change your eating habits with the seasons. Even if you make some less nutritious choices over the winter, remember that good health is a result of your overall eating pattern and every next meal is a new opportunity to nourish your body.

Original post by Jen MacPherson for Positive Living BC

11.03.2013

Avoid Upper Cross Syndrome and Maintain Rotator Cuff Stability


We're going to address one of the most neglected and important areas of the body: the shoulder joint.
Overuse can occur through repetitive motions, as in swimming, or in static overuse -- for example, the position held on a bike. What's the result? Tight anterior and weak posterior musculature creates imbalances, poor posture, discomfort and possibly injury. This area needs to be trained and maintained to avoid these issues, promote good posture and solidify your performance.

There's so much information related to form and function of the shoulder that three-time World Ironman Champion Peter Reid would have no trouble finishing Ironman Hawaii twice, and recover completely from both, before we could even scratch the surface of relevant information.

So, in order to keep you awake and interested, we'll address one of the most common faulty upper body imbalances, along with shoulder joint integrity.

What is upper cross syndrome?

Although you may not be familiar with the term upper cross syndrome (UCS) you've probably seen it. All of us have seen that little old lady who's standing up, but appears to be falling over; her head shifted forward, shoulders rounded, and her upper back between the shoulder blades looks like the head of a cobra poised to strike.

Now, just so you don't think we're picking on the elderly, the same condition can exist in the young. Picture the gym rat that does 10 sets of 10 with 225 lbs, three days a week, year after year. Eventually he too will develop the same condition as the little old lady.

Both examples are a result of muscular imbalances between the flexors and extensors of the upper torso and regardless of age, if you suffer from these imbalances you'll have a higher risk of injury and will be less efficient in your training and racing.

How do you develop UCS?

UCS is simply the weakening and lengthening of the posterior upper-back and neck musculature, and the tightening and shortening of the anterior and opposing musculature. Remember your mom telling you to stand up straight? Well, poor posture, such as slumping over a computer or slouching, contribute to UCS.

If someone with UCS swims, bikes, or runs, it will exacerbate the faulty mechanics and cause excessive wear to the skeletal system, muscles, and tendons and ligaments. Additionally, UCS will also hinder performance by depressing the sternum; meaning you can't breathe, which is rather important for endurance athletes!

How do you correct it?

You can correct UCS by strengthening what's weak and stretching what's tight. Let's discuss the muscles that make up the rotator cuff and their function and relevancy to the stability of your shoulders and posture.

The shoulder allows for a great amount of mobility, at the sacrifice of stability, which is why you must be forever vigilant and adhere to the commandments of shoulder stability.

Commandment 1: Know thy structure. Unlike the hip joint, which has the protection of surrounding bone to help stabilization, the shoulder heavily depends on four small muscles, ligaments and tendons to establish joint integrity. The muscles are: the subscapularis, teres minor, suraspinatus, and the infraspinatus. The stabilizing ligaments are the glenohumeral, coracohumeral, and the transverse humeral ligaments.

Commandment 2: Know thy movements. Shoulder movements include abduction, adduction, lateral and medial rotation, flexion, extension, and circumduction (combination of these movements). Because of the mobility of the shoulder, exercise selection must encompass all of these movements through a safe and full range of motion, which we'll cover shortly.

Commandment 3: Know thy anchor. Shoulder movement and the four muscles that perform stability are anchored to the scapula, so you must stabilize the scapula to further establish joint integrity.

The major players are the levator scapulae, upper trapezius, and rhomboid major and minor. You use your lower trapezius and the serratus to lift your scapula, and your latissiumus dorsi, pectoralis major and minor, and subclavius to lower it.

The exercises

Exercises that strengthen the upper back and the back of the shoulder will help prevent and correct this problem. External shoulder rotation, rows, pulldowns or pull up, and back flies are all examples of great preventative and rehabilitative exercise.

Original post by:

10.27.2013

The 3 Most COMMON Mistakes When Trying to Lose FAT!


If you’ve tried to drop weight, get leaner and reduce body fat in the past only to fall short of your goal and fail to see the results you desire then chances are you have been a victim of one or more of these 3 most common mistakes when trying to lose fat…

Mistake 1: The starvation approach. It’s true that in order to lose fat you need to reduce your calorie intake somewhat, however an extreme diet and taking your calories too low can actually cause your body to slow down the rate at which your body burns energy (calories) and results in your body holding onto the fat you are trying to burn. Not all calories are created equal.

Instead, focus on quality over quantity and consuming the right kind of calories and avoiding the empty calories that offer little or no nutritional value. Then focus on burning more and raising your metabolism through structured intense progressive exercise.

Mistake 2: Too much cardio. Cardiovascular exercise is very useful when trying to burn fat, however when overused or simply done in an ineffective way (as most people do) you actually end up burning more muscle tissue than body fat. This may cause you to lose weight on the scales but it’s not quality weight loss and it’s not fat loss.

Instead try structuring your cardiovascular exercise in a way that elevates your metabolism and ensures maximum fat loss. The best way to do this is with short durational burst of high intensity exercise followed by a lower intensity rest period and then repeated for a certain number of repetitions.

Mistake 3: Avoiding Training with Weights. Most people when trying to drop weight and lose fat avoid lifting weights and resistance training altogether, when the truth is that progressive and structured resistance training is the number one way to increase and raise your Resting Metabolic Rate and the total amount of calories that your body burns per day.

Instead try to schedule 2-4 resistance training sessions into your workout week and this will ensure you are increasing your Lean Muscle Tissue which will result in your body burning more calories and more fat 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, even while you sleep!

Original Post: zerogravityfitness.com

10.20.2013

10 Dangerous Kettlebell Mistakes


Whether you’re a new entry to kettlebell training or are an old hand, injuries can still strike at any time if you’re practicing the moves incorrectly. Here are some common mistakes that can lead to injury.

1. Not following proper movement progression 

Too many people attempt exercises they and their bodies are not prepared to properly execute.

Area of risk: The most common area at risk is usually the back. For example: The kettlebell swing shouldn’t be performed until the deadlift is mastered.

How to avoid: Be patient with your training and progress slowly. Take up sessions with a coach or trainer to develop a solid, progressive plan.

2. Not maintaining a neutral spine 

A neutral spine establishes the correct alignment of the athlete. This must be kept in mind when performing swings, high pulls, clean or snatch.

Area of risk: The entire spine and surrounding musculature.

How to avoid: Keep a straight line from your hips to your head. You should be able to lay a broomstick along the entire spine.

3. Taking too wide a stance 

All stances are not created equal. Overly extended stances during swings leave several areas vulnerable to injury.

Area of risk: Hips, knees and lower back.

How to avoid: Take an athletic stance. An athletic stance can be defined as a stance out of which you would jump.

4. Muscling the bell with the upper body 

Overemphasis of upper body muscles during ballistic movements deteriorates exercise flow and can place strain on vulnerable areas.

Area of risk: Neck, shoulders, lower back.

How to avoid: Relax the upper body, use a hip snap and lock the knees out with each rep.

5. Training to muscle failure 

Training to failure with kettlebells is asking for trouble.

Area of risk: Whatever area you push to failure is at risk. Form will suffer and lead to injury.

How to avoid: Stop several reps short of failure.

6. Attempting to rescue a bad repetition 

If something doesn’t feel right, there’s a good chance it’s not. Stop and put the bell down before paying the price.

Area of risk: Primarily the lower back.

How to avoid: Don’t try to force reps. Be conscious of your form and the quality of the reps.

7. Trying to get too fancy 

Attempting to invent new movements outside of the basics don’t provide a reward worth the risk.

Area of risk: Mostly spine, but many things can go wrong when you do wacky things with a kettlebell

How to avoid: Stick to the basics. They work the best.

8. Using too tight a grip 

Death gripping bells are pointless and dangerous with kettlebell ballistic movements.

Area of risk: Hands and elbows.

How to avoid: Relax your grip and hold the bell in the hook of the fingers rather than the meat of the hand.

9. Smashing the forearms  

Kettlebell cleans and snatches change the bell’s position during a movement—stay in control of the motion so the bell doesn’t fall down and smash into your forearms.

Area of risk: Lower and upper arms.

How to avoid: Punch the kettlebell upwards instead of swinging it while relaxing the grip and allowing the bell to gently catch against your forearm.

10. Wearing Improper footwear 

Running shoes are for running, not for kettlebells.

Area of risk: Running shoes raise the heel and can push the knee forward during squats or swing which could possibly contribute to knee injury.

How to avoid: Train in flat soled shoes or even go barefoot—you’ll be more stable.

Originally Published at http://www.mensfitness.com/training/pro-tips/10-dangerous-kettlebell-mistakes

10.13.2013

Symptoms of the Cancer Metabolism Syndrome


The innate intelligence in our body whispers to us every day, sending us signals about what is happening inside our body. Do you take the time to listen and make adjustments in your lifestyle or do you keep turning a deaf ear to what your body is trying to tell you? It is my sincere hope that the information in this blog will help create an AHA moment for you before your body starts screaming at you to get your attention.

I must confess that in the past, I was guilty of ignoring the telltale signs of the Cancer Metabolism Syndrome until my body stopped me dead in my tracks. Please share this with the women that you love and care about. Prevention is so much easier than healing a cancer.

Think of your body as a garden that has a terrain or “soil”. If you nourish the soil with good water, sunshine, specific nutrients and lots of TLC, the chances of weeds popping up and taking over the garden are quite slim. Think of cancer cells like weeds that pop up in your garden. If you are being attentive and the terrain is healthy, the weeds will picked off and eliminated before they have a chance to propagate.

Dr. Jean Wallace, a prominent expert in Nutritional Oncology, has coined a term called the “Onco-metabolic Syndrome”. “This is a cluster of nutritional and metabolic factors that can influence the growth and progression of cancer.” There are several factors that can influence the growth or death of cancer cells in the body.

You have control over these 5 factors. In fact, every time you eat or drink, you are either feeding your body or feeding the cancer. You get to choose.

1.) High Blood Sugar
In my opinion, sugar is the top cancer trigger. Early in the 1930’s it was discovered that cancer cells do not use oxygen to survive – they use sugar. A study conducted in a mouse model with Breast Cancer clearly showed the negative impact that high blood sugar had on survival rate. The higher the blood sugar, the lower the immunity and increased death rate. Obesity and Type 2 diabetes have been identified as risk factors for Breast Cancer with a poor prognosis and survival rate.

2.) Increased Estrogen Levels
For men and women alike, high estrogen levels can trigger cancer. There are so many environmental and chemical estrogens that we can be exposed to if we do not make conscious choices to eat clean and live clean. The liver’s ability to break down and expel the aggressive estrogens is key to metabolizing estrogens properly. To determine your estrogen levels, there are simple saliva and urine tests that can be done in the privacy of your home.

3.) Compromised Immune System
 If your body is loaded with pathogens like bacteria, yeasts, parasites and /or viruses, your Immune System will be so preoccupied that the cancer cells can easily start multiplying. Stress is a major factor in weakening your Immune System.

4.) Nutrient Deficiencies
There are specific mineral and vitamin deficiencies that play a significant role in the growth of cancer in the body. According to the Anti Cancer Research Group, “Magnesium deficiency is carcinogenic.” Trace minerals like zinc and selenium are important for a healthy Immune System and detoxification pathways. Every client that I have worked with in the last 18 months has been deficient in Iodine and Vitamin D.

 5.) Inflammation
Inflammation in the body is the result of poor dietary choices and a stressed lifestyle. Most polyunsaturated oils like safflower, sunflower, corn, peanut and soy are high in Omega 6’s which are pro-inflammatory. High carb diets, commercial dairy and meats can also cause inflammation. High stress levels and exposure to environmental chemicals can also contribute to inflammation. By-products of inflammation stimulate tumor growth and suppress the Immune System. Original Post from: Breast Cancer Conqueror

10.06.2013

Learning Proper Exercise Form

 
We are all told over and over again about the importance of proper form during exercise, yet when an exercise feels off (or outright wrong) we are often encouraged by our trainers/instructors to keep going. This can seem rather contradictory, but there is a method to this madness.


First I’d like to point out that everything takes practise. Just think of professional athletics or dancers. It takes years, if not a decades, to master technique and achieve the optimal level of strength and flexibility. The lesson here is that you can’t expect perfection on your first try (and maybe not even on your tenth). First attempts may feel awkward and awful. What is important, is that you focus on the right muscles, and attentively listen to your instructor’s cues and corrections. Barring any sharp pains, or extreme strain on your back and/or neck, you are most likely safe to continue the exercise. Achieving proper exercise form takes patience and practise, just like everything else in life.


Our bodies carry many imbalances. This means you may not always feel an exercise in the area you are supposed to (even if your form appears to be correct). Most exercises have primary mover(s), secondary mover(s) and stabilizer(s). For clarity lets take a look at push ups. The primary movers for this exercise are the pectoral muscles (chest).Your triceps, deltoids, and core are also active. It is normal to feel the exercise predominantely in one of these secondary and/or stabilizing areas if they are weak. When you focus on proper form, the gaps in strength will begin to narrow and you will eventually achieve that “Ah Ha!” moment; that moment when the exercise finally feels right.


Limitations in flexibility and range of motion will influence the ability to do an exercise correctly. For example, if the shoulder is restricted it becomes taxing to do a proper shoulder press; it’s a struggle to get the arm straight and right beside the ear, even with a light weight. While increased stretching is an obvious solution to this problem, practising the exercise will also increase your range of motion. It is important to note that restriction in movements may not always be related to limitations in flexibility. Strength imbalances may also play a role. Going back to the shoulder press example. If the lateral and posterior portion of the deltoids, along with other muscles in the rotator cuff are weak, the shoulder range of motion may be compromised.


Your level of fatigue will also influence your ability to perform an exercise correctly. Needless to say, the deeper you are into your workout, the more balance and coordination suffers. This does not mean you should stop! This is exactly how you build muscular endurance and reinforce proper movement patterns (if you are concentrating on proper form). Fatigue will also affect which muscle groups feel the most intensity. It is normal to feel an exercise in “strange” areas when you are tired. For example, if you have done a series of intensive leg exercises, prior to doing a TRX plank, you may feel your quads working harder than your core.


Keeping these points in mind, here are some tips to help improve your exercise form.


1) Concentrate on the proper muscles groups. It takes time and practise to learn to engage the right muscles. When you focus on the correct muscles groups you are beginning to create the mind-body connection (neural pathways), that will allow you to achieve proper form.
 
2) Listen to your body. Pay attention to what muscles are working, which ones are relaxed, and if you feel any excessive strain or pain (especially in the lower back or neck). Practise does make perfect but if an exercise is “too difficult” it may be time to stop. Imbalances, limitations in range of motion, injuries, or level of fitness may severely impair your ability to perform a particular exercises. This does not mean that you will not be able to do it in the future, but until the underlying issues are sorted you may be better off doing alternate or modified exercises.
 
3) Don’t be scared to ask questions! Instructors are always happy to help their students improve. Sometimes an additional cue can make all the difference. A fitness professional may also be able to offer alternatives or exercise modifications if something is not working for you.
 
If you’re still not clear or you still feel uncomfortable it may be worth working one-on-one with a trainer (even if its just for a session or two). More complex, multi-joint movements may take some extra instruction. If you’re new to a particular form of exercise a little one-on-one attention may be exactly what you need to get you started, keep you injury free, and keep you motivated.
 
4) Get your imbalances, range of motion, and injuries assessed by a physiotherapist. Education and awareness of your current weakness and limitations goes a long way! When you understand your body, learn how to engage the correct muscles, know where and why you are weak and/or restricted you will get the most out of your workouts and prevent future injury.

9.29.2013

The Pilates Effect


The other day I heard someone tell me that, “Pilates has changed my life.” This inspired me to write about why this form of exercise is so effective.

While most of us can list some of the benefits of Pilates, it can be difficult to pinpoint what make this form of exercise different from any other, especially when comparing it to other popular low impact practices. I’ve outlined 3 facets of Pilates that are highly emphasized and continuously re-enforced. While none of these are unique to any form of exercise, the level of focus in which Pilates places on these is rather distinct.

1) Awareness and Control

It’s surprising how little awareness and control most people have over their own bodies. While many of us do not notice this in our day-to-day lives, it becomes all too apparent when exercising. For example, when asked to do an exercise for the abdominals we feel it in the lower back and/or hip flexors instead. Not surprisingly, a lack of body awareness and control lead to a milieu of acute and chronic pains. These injuries often appear out of nowhere, without a distinct identifiable cause.

One aspect that makes Pilates rather unique is its focus on educating body awareness and control, resulting in efficient and effective biomechanics. This practise is based on a deep understanding of anatomy and muscular systems, and enforces functional movement patterns. This is done through proper cueing, as well as particular exercise sequencing and progressions. The beauty of this practise is that the awareness and control built in class begins to translate into daily life, changing the way you move; slowly breaking down dysfunctional biomechanical patterns.

2) Posture and Core Stability

While the goal of Pilates is an increase in overall fitness, there is an overwhelming concentration on core strength and stability, as well as posture. This is key to its pre-hab/rehab success. The spine supports a large portion of our body weight, and comes under huge strain throughout the day. It is also our nerve center, enclosing both the sensory and motor nerves that travel throughout our body. Without proper muscular support, compression and mal-alignment are inevitable. This eventually results in pain, restriction and/or dysfunction, both locally and in the extremities. An emphasis on core (abdominal and back) strengthening and stabilizing exercises, as well as postural awareness, helps mobilize and re-align the spine. This results in a reduction, and potentially elimination, of pain and injury in the neck and back, as well as throughout the body.

3) Elongation

As a holistic discipline, Pilates also focuses on elongating our muscles. The importance of maintaining optimal muscle length and range of motion should not be overlooked. Stretching helps increase circulation, prevent chronic and acute injuries, and helps build maximum strength in the muscle. Most significantly, it promotes proper body mechanics and alignment.

To sum it up, Pilates is designed to restore the body to its natural balance and alignment. There is a strong focus on achieving a level of awareness and mastery over the body, in addition to an emphasis on core stability, posture, and flexibility. This low impact, holistic form of exercise can be beneficial regardless of age and/or ability, aids in the rehabilitation of both chronic and acute pains, and helps prevent future injuries.

9.22.2013

Picking up Trends from the World's Healthiest Population


It feels like every week you hear about a new health trend, superfood, diet or must-have supplement. While some things you read about may hold value, it can be difficult to figure out how to apply this new found knowledge and whether it actually applies to you. Unfortunately there is also a lot of information floating around that is contradictory, poorly researched, or (for a lack of a better word) bullshit. For those of you who are tired of jumping from one health trend bandwagon to the next, this is for you.

I decided to identify some of the key trends in the eating habits of one of the most healthy populations in the world, Japan. First, here are some states:

The Japanese have the longest life expectancy in the world, with the average person expected to live to 83, and many living well into their 90s. Furthermore, according to the World Health Organization, the Japanese can anticipate to live 75 healthy and disability-free years. They also enjoy the lowest obesity rate in the developed world, at only 3%.

Here are some food trends, that attribute this population’s health and slim physique. The best part is you don’t have to love Japanese food to be able to apply these to your life.

1)      Eat with your eyes

It’s all about small portions, small plates, and delicious, satisfying foods. People eat approximately 45% more when served larger portions. Opt for smaller meals and seek variety. I like to compare this to tapas. Tapas is all about having many small dishes and taking a few bites of each. This slows you down and tricks the brain into believing you ate a large meal, leaving you full and satisfied.

2)      Avoid high density foods

The Japanese are known for filling up on fruits, veggies and broth-based soups. It’s not unusual to have four or five different varieties of vegetables in one meal. Nor is it frowned upon to have salad or soup for breakfast. Maintaining a maximum amount of nutrients is key in. Veggies are often seasoned in broth, stir-fried in a small amounts of vegetable oil, or lightly steamed. While the Japanese enjoy typical North American deserts, such as ice cream, it is much more common to serve an assortment of fresh fruits.

3)      Protein without the Saturated Fat

It should come as no shock that the Japanese are crazy about fish, especially fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and herrings. These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have a variety of heart-health and mood-boosting benefits.

Products rich in soy, such as tofu, edemame beans and miso soup, are also quite popular in Japan. In moderation these foods are a great source of protein with little or no saturated fats.

4)      Green Tea

In Japan it is common to finish off your meal with green tea. The benefits are numerous; it increases your metabolism, helps regulate glucose levels, reduces bad cholesterol, regulates blood pressure, and influences your immunity.

When you put it all together it’s all rather simple. You don’t have to cut out entire food groups, nor invest in expensive suppliments or hard to find groceries. It is all about eating a variety of foods, indulging in fruits, veggies and other low density foods, reducing your portion sizes, sticking to proteins with low or no saturated fats, and having a brew with your meals.

9.15.2013

Busy Schedule? Having Trouble Staying Committed to your Workouts?


When life gets busy it’s easy to slowly let our exercise routine fall apart. It can be difficult to juggle work, a family life, and social activities, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately this is when it’s most important to stay fit. Exercise aids in stress management, helps with concentration, and gives us the boost of energy we need. Here are some tips I’ve picked up over the years that may help you stay on track.
1.       Schedule your workouts ahead of time.
This forces you to take a look at all the variables. What does your work week look like? Do you foresee a particularly stressful day? Do you have any important appointments coming up? Are you planning to go on a date or have dinner with friends? What is the weather going to be like? Whether you workout on your own, attend classes or see a trainer it’s important to figure out a realistic schedule. This enforces a level of commitment.

2.       Figure out what your priorities are.

For most of us exercise does not rank number one on our priorities list. For example, if your co-workers asked you to come out for dinner and drinks after work, would you stay committed to your plan to workout or would you ditch?  While many of us would not like to admit it, we would ditch. This is something we shouldn’t necessarily be ashamed of, but we do need to know what takes precedence. Some things are obvious, such as work and various family commitments. Other things, we may have to do a little soul searching for. When you know what may cause you to flake, it’s easier to create a schedule that does not allow you to do so. Going back to the example above, if you know you have frequent last minute social events, morning work outs may be your best option.

3.       Be prepared!

Keep an extra pair of workout clothes and runners in your car or at work.

We all have days when we have trouble getting ourselves together in the morning. This can cause us to forget things. This little tip ensures you don’t let something silly, like forgetting to pack a change of clothes, stop you for hitting the gym.
Pack a nutritious lunch and snacks.

Your food is your fuel. When you are always on the go, your days can seem draining enough. Don’t let your eating habits bring you down as well. This is important whether you work out in the morning, during your lunch hour or after work. Without proper nutrition you will begin to feel sluggish and fatigued affecting your work, social and family life, as well as your ability to exercise.
4.       Make time for rest!

Everyone needs an evening or day to themselves to simply relax. Without this we eventually burn out. Often your workouts are the first to suffer in this situation. Make sure you give yourself some time to relax. If this means you can only do yoga twice a week rather than 3, so be it. While we all wish we can exercise 5 – 6 times a week, this may not be realistic. In some cases it may be better to workout less frequently but stay committed long term. There is nothing more discouraging than burning out a few weeks in and completely give up.
5.       Pick activities you enjoy.

There are benefits to each and every type of exercise you choose. If you hate yoga, don’t do it. You will never stick to something that you need to force yourself to do, especially when you’re already short on time. Find activities that match your health and fitness goals but you can still enjoy. This may take a bit of creativity and some trial and error.
The best way to stay on track is to not put yourself into a situation where it is easy to make excuses. When you enjoy your workouts, they fit into your schedule and you’re prepared, barring any sort of last minute emergency, it is tough to find a reason not to exercise.

9.08.2013

Back-to-School: Healthy Lunches for your Kids


It's that time again! The summer is coming to a close and parents and children have started to prepare for another school year. This time of year can certainly be overwhelming. Between shopping for books, pens, clothes and new technology, the average family is very busy. However, it's important not to forget about health during this time of year.
Now that the school year is about to start up again, it's important that you spend some time figuring out what your children will be eating for lunch. Preparing healthy lunches and snacks for school is incredibly important.
There are a number of benefits to eating healthy. Eating a healthy diet helps children stay in shape. It gives them more energy and it makes concentrating and learning easier.  Here are a few tips for putting together healthy lunches that your kids will love.
Let them help in the preparation             
Children will be more likely to eat their lunch and more likely to enjoy it if they help prepare it. Give your children some options when you're packing their lunch boxes. A simple choice such as asking whether your child would like a banana, an apple or some grapes (for example)can go a long way to putting together a lunch that he or she will enjoy. You can even plan lunches for the entire week to make the everyday process easier and faster.
Add some variety
Try to include at least three of the four food groups in your child's lunch and switch things up from time-to-time to make sure that your children don't get bored. If your kids want to eat the same things every day, recognize that it may take some time before they'll accept new foods. However, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try. Choosing brightly coloured foods or foods that are cut into fun shapes can help encourage them to try new things. For example, cut their vegetables and fruits into stars or triangle shapes instead of cubes. This will make the food look more appealing.
Don't forget snacks
When you're packing food for the day, include some healthy snacks. Crackers and cheese or vegetables with some healthy dip (such as hummus) are great options. Be creative!
Keep food allergies in mind
Many schools do not allow peanuts or other foods that children are commonly allergic to onto school property. Make sure that you are aware of all school polices and that you follow them exactly.
A homemade lunch is almost always a healthier and more affordable option than a store-bought lunch. If your kids are picky and often come home with uneaten lunches, be sure to find out why. Ask your children what specifically they didn't like about the lunch and try to make changes until you find something healthy that they'll eat.
Originally posted on the Hemocode blog.